One Jen Rhee stumbled upon my blog several months ago and, given my interests in art and social conditions, invited me to embed the following infographic that she and a small group of collaborators assembled. Here it is. My comments follow below.
Created by: OnlineITDegree.net
Given the brand-recognition angle of the above infographic, I can only assume that by adding it to my blog I am helping out Jen. But on this blog the price for publicity is critique. My evaluation, then.
I like the design sensibility and talent for organizing information. I also enjoy the choice of a Murray Hill-like display font for an infographic about racism. It makes ironic reference to the Mad Men-era of ugly prejudice mixed with stylishness.
What I find weaker is the analytical framework, particularly the use of the words “tech/technology” and “racist.” Are notebooks and handheld electronic devices synonymous with tech or technology? If this is about patterns of racial exclusion and dominance within an industry, then perhaps the point would be better made if some comparison were made against a different industry. For example, are the numbers of tech start-up entrepreneurs any different when compared to the executives of automobile companies? If the profiles are comparable, then can one be described as racist when the other is not? Or are both then to be considered racist, and where would that leave us? And where would that leave the meaning of "racism"?
Furthermore, is racism a phenomenon limited to the exclusions of and biases against Black and Hispanic people? What about the over-representation of white managers and senior executives in relation to the abundance of East and South Asian junior engineers? How might that also fit into the patterns of exclusion you are attempting to address? Silicon Valley is the physical manifestation of a global industry, and beyond that, of a global economy. Who are the South Asians that find their way to a glass-ceiling career in a Silicon Valley company? Might there be some patterns there that reflect the social hierarchies of an entirely different context?
It is not necessarily that I disagree with the observations highlighted in the infographic, more that I sense incompleteness in its analysis, a need for a more fine-grained argument, and contextual information that probably overrides the infographic medium.